How Email Countdown Timers Work
What are they?
Countdown timers are tools that you can use to control the flow of events within a campaign. They are found within the “Sequence” sub menu (i.e. when you double-click in to one) on the upper left side of the interface. There are 3 variants of these timers, that sometimes cause some confusion, which is what we are going to be covering here.
A quick point before we start
You can not use more than one timer type within a single chain of events. You can use different timers in different sequences within the same campaign, but you cannot ask a campaign to delay 3 days and then send an email on the 24th of August. This is because it creates conflicts. If you use another “Start” tool however, you can achieve multiple timers in different “event chains” within a single sequence, see the below example.
Probably the most commonly used timer, the simple delay timer allows you to set a minimum gap between two events. When you are looking at a sequence we are looking at a (mostly) linear timeline. In the example above I have specified that from the point that a contact starts on the sequence, it will wait 3 days and then run on a weekday at 8am. This means that if a contact enters the sequence at 9am on a Friday, the “Introduction” email will be sent out on a 8am on the coming Tuesday. This, as I am sure you are aware, is a 4 day gap. On the Monday at 8am 3 days have yet to pass. So what the campaign is doing is waiting for the next instance of 8am after it finishes its minimum delay. A minimum delay that is, in this instance, met at 9am on the Monday.
This can take a little bit of mental gymnastics to get your head around. However, hopefully after reading this document you will be aware that that this isn’t the timer you want to be using overmuch for time/deadline sensitive problems - so this shouldn’t be a concern.
The settings for a delay timer, as seen above, can be accessed by double clicking on the timer of concern once it is in place on your campaign grid. This function is true of all of the timers.
On the far left it allows you to specify the minimum wait time for your following action. It is important to note that it also allows you to specify “No Delay” should you wish to skip this step.
As a point of best practice, it is usually best to add a 1-2 minute timer between actions that rely on the campaign updating contact records. For example, if you wanted an email to display a merged value that you have just set in a previous step, a short timer can prevent the eventuality of a de-sync and incorrect data being sent to your clients.
The second column of the set up allows you to specify whether you want the next action to take place on a specific day (or specific days) of the week or month. The “Any Day”, “Week Day” and “Weekend” options are fairly self explanatory. However for “Day of Week” you get the option to specify which week of the month, as well as which weeks on specific months of the year. The “Day of Month” feature also allows you to specify which months you are referring too.
The final column allows you to set the time of day you want your next action to trigger. Infusionsoft will try to fire as close to this time as possible, but be aware that larger action queues (in terms of the volume of contacts moving through) can slow this process down. You can choose “At” to specify a certain hour and quarter, and “Any Time” to fire it though as soon as previous rules are met. The “Between” function is only available if you have selected “Hours” “Minutes” or “No Delay” in column 1 of these settings. This is a particularly useful feature if you are using automated emails to simulate your own correspondence. For example, setting emails so that they only go out within the hours of 9-5 has a better chance as being perceived as genuine than the one that went out at 2am.
Finally, “Use contact’s time zone” can only function if you have captured the timezone of the contact within Infusionsoft. If this data is not present, then it will simply send at the specified hour according to the time zone set-up in the app.
Do you, instead of waiting an arbitrary amount of time, want everything to happen at (close as we can get) the same time for every contact going through your sequence? Is your email chain time sensitive? Then you might want to use a date timer.
Opening up a date timer allows you to set two columns, the second of which is the same as the delay timer detailed above. The first column on the other hand allows you to specify a specific date, or range of dates, that will trigger the next action. I.e. if a date timer was set up to trigger from the 25th to the 30th of October, any contact which hits this timer within that timeframe will be fired to the next action at the hour specified in column 2. What the range would NOT do, is send emails evenly over the 5 days. It is simply looking for a trigger.
One of the most common questions I am asked about date timers is what would happen in an instance such as below.
As you can see, these timers are set to trigger on the 24th of August and the 11th of September. So what happens when someone enters this sequence on the 1st of September? Well previously I have said that these sequences are a linear timeline. So therefore if our 1st of September contact is going in at the “Start” surely it cannot progress any further as the 24th has already occured.
Well actually, I said it was a (mosltly) linear timeline, and this is why I made that distinction. If our contact entered the campaign on the 1st, you are quite correct in assuming that the 24th timer and the first email would not send. However, when the 11th of September occurs, our 1st of September contact will skip the two previous and head straight for the second email. This is really important to understand when it comes to manipulating date timers.
Do you have a set up which requires for an action to trigger after a time recorded in an Infusionsoft date field? Then field timers are the tool you need. It is worth knowing that in order for this to work the field that you are pulling from has to have been set up as the “Date” or “Date/Time” field type, and cannot simply be a date input in to a “text” field.
Once again the last column of this set up functions in exactly the same manner as previously described, so not much should need explaining there. The first column on the other hand, now presents the opportunity to display how many days, weeks, or months before or after the specified date you want the action to trigger. This once again features the option to specify “No Delay” if you want the email to trigger on the exact date.
The second column allows you to choose the Infusionsoft Contact field the timer is going to be referring too for the date. A common example of this is to record the date someone first makes a purchase from you, and then sending them an “anniversary” offer to attempt to win repeat business. The section below it allows you to either check for the next occurence of this day and month, or to check for the specific year. The latter option allowing you to prevent contacts triggering upon other instances of the date.